Getting Antsy in Antigua (January 6, 2017 – January 18, 2017)

Getting Antsy in Antigua (January 6, 2017 – January 18, 2017)

It’s hard to believe isn’t it? I mean, just hearing the name “Antigua” brings thoughts of palm trees, warm sunny days with cool ocean breezes, hundreds of beautiful beaches, blue skies and aqua water. Who in their right mind would be anxious to leave all that? Why would anyone be impatient with staying in a place that completely fits that description? Well, believe us. We are ready to go. We have places to get to and wanderlust has stricken. We need to get out of here, but the winds and waves have not cooperated over the last couple of weeks. They have held us captive to our Jolly Harbour Marina and we are getting antsy.

Colorful little beach shacks.img_6232Just another day at the beach.img_6236img_6239img_6240

img_6214Noi had her hair braided a couple of weeks ago and was ready to get rid of the braids and the extensions.  It turned into a three hour group project, but it kept us busy!img_6244Diane and Debbie working on the braids.img_6247Noi was frizzy when those braids came out, but it’s all back to normal now.img_6256We celebrated Larry’s birthday with a lobster bisque dinner followed by cake and ice cream.

We both suffered horrible colds when we arrived back from the states, so if there was good to be said about being here longer than we would have liked, at least we had lots of time to rest. We are feeling better now, thankfully, so to pass the time we have read, played around on the internet when the intermittent Wi-Fi was working, enjoyed happy hours with friends, had a couple of dinners out, traveled to town to buy lobsters and cooked them with our friends, celebrated Larry’s birthday, and, of course, spent time on the beach.

img_6266Betty’s Hope is an old sugar mill.  These are remnants of the master’s house.img_6272img_6302Enjoying our time together.  Left to right, Jack, Jean, Me, John, Carl, and Annimg_6303The goats came to join the picnic area.img_6309Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.img_5889Eric Clapton’s Antigua home.img_6319From the same point as the previous photo, the view from Shirley Heights, the Caribbean Sea.  Large sunset parties are held here every Sunday night.  Cruisers tell us it is too crowded for comfort, but, obviously, it must be gorgeous.  The harbors here are English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour.img_5900img_6321These are the sail pillars at Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour.img_6325Nelson’s Dockyard has museums, shops, and lovely areas to see the mega-yachts docked there.img_6327Never beyond a little silliness!!

Yesterday, Tuesday the 17th, just when we were really getting impatient I received a text from my brother, Jack. He and my sister-in-law, Jean, were traveling on a cruise with another couple.  Their ship was diverted from their planned stop in Montserrat to Antigua because the water was too rough at the anchorage. We were thrilled to be able to meet with them at the cruise dock and take an afternoon tour of the island, guided by our friendly taxi driver, Gene. We had a wonderful time seeing some of the sights we had not yet explored and being with Jack, Jean, Ann, and Carl.

It seems that Friday will finally be the day our little flotilla will pull out of the docks and continue on our northbound trek, and we are all busy stocking the cabinets and freezers again with supplies, completing projects such as oil changes, replenishing battery water, filling water tanks, and other endless tasks that need to be done before we leave. We can’t wait to get going again. Antigua, you were great, but it is time to leave!

Christmas With the Family and back in Antigua (December 20, 2016 – January 5, 2017)

Christmas With the Family and back in Antigua (December 20, 2016 – January 5, 2017)

One thing we know about cruisers: they all have their own stories. We have met single handers, couples, families, those with pets, those that don’t particularly like pets, those who are taking a break from their careers to cruise while they are young, those that are retired. Some seem to be independently wealthy, some have saved and planned to make their trip enjoyable, and some live on tight budgets. We have met people who have been living on their boats for ten years and some who just cruise part time. Some cruisers have families at home, wherever home may be, and some do not. Everyone decides what is best for them and everyone else completely accepts their choices without question. For us, when Christmas time came around, we knew we needed to be home with our family. We needed hugs from a two, a three, a five, a six, and a nine year old. For John, it had been over a year since he last saw Walt and Rush and almost a year since he last saw Michaela, Carter, and Madison. Top that off with some pretty wonderful children and their spouses or girlfriend and it was time to go home!

December 20th was my birthday and I was getting the best gift ever. We left Jolly Harbour Marina, here in Antigua, around noon. We felt very comfortable leaving AfterMath as she is docked right next to our friends on Tropical Blend and on Symbiosis, both crews promising to keep an eye on her while we were gone. Our taxi took us to the kennel where Kirby would stay during our trip and then to the small airport here on the island. We flew to JFK and then to Washington Dulles, where Jeff picked us up at 11:30 PM. To say it was good to see him standing there would be an understatement! The following day was spent just having fun with the kids and getting some time to rest and relax.

img_2933Rush cuddling with Bop.img_2965Buddies forever.  I love Walt’s hand on top of John’s.img_5892Waiting for the Metro.img_5897That’s a happy little Walter!img_5899img_5901img_5903img_5910Walt and Rush getting a sneak peek on those trains.img_5920The beautiful displays.img_5922img_5931img_5935img_5942img_5945img_5946img_5950img_5952img_5955Niece Sarah, Jason, and baby Annie.img_5959img_5966It’s fun to play in the rainbows at the Indian museum.

After catching up on playing with Walt and Rush on Wednesday, we decided to take a trip to Washington D.C. on Thursday morning. Unfortunately, Sarah had to work, but Jeff, John and I had great fun taking the boys on their first Metro ride into the city. We decided to visit the Botanical Gardens on the Mall because the annual train display was set up and the boys just love model trains. The display was absolutely gorgeous. Every year the theme changes and this year it commemorated the 100th anniversary of the beginning of National Parks in the U.S. Every building and setting was made of plant material and 45 parks were featured. The boys loved the trains, which included Thomas, his friend Percy, a train shaped like a ladybug, and many other beautiful trains of all sizes. We also had another wonderful treat; our niece, Sarah Koch, and her husband, Jason, along with their new baby, Annie, came to meet us at the Smithsonian.   Annie is just three months old and this was our first time to meet her and give her some cuddles. We all had lunch together at the Indian museum, catching up and having a great time.

Later that night, Jeff and Sarah took us out to dinner for my birthday. When asked what I felt like eating there wasn’t much hesitation. I wanted a good steak! I’m not one to order beef at a restaurant as a rule, but take it from me, there are no good steaks in the Caribbean, either in stores or in restaurants, and sometimes you just want a nice piece of meat! We went to a beautiful old steak house in the center of Annapolis and we all just relished every bite of the best steak and the most delicious potatoes we have ever eaten.

Some serious baking and sneaking bites going on here!

We had another nice lunch out on Friday and, in the evening, we all took the boys to see the lovely and large lighting display on the bay. When we returned home, Walt, Rush and I worked on making some cookies. They both love cooking, especially the measuring and stirring parts! Scooping cookies onto a cookie sheet is especially entertaining. Suffice it to say that more cookie dough ended up in the kids than in the oven!

fullsizerender-30Little shepherd boy, Rush, with Sarah.img_5986The living nativity.

Finally Christmas Eve was upon us. Going to Jeff and Sarah’s little white, picturesque church, singing carols, and especially watching Walt and Rush as shepherds in the live nativity scene was the perfect way to welcome Christmas. It seems like just a few years ago that it was our children in those scenes. Next year they will have a new little boy to attend the service with them, as Sarah is due in April. We couldn’t be more excited.

fullsizerender-31I’m guessing Santa won’t mind sharing with this little cutie.

After church we had a delicious dinner made by Sarah before the little guys left their cookies for Santa and headed off to bed, hoping to catch a glimpse of those famous reindeer.

img_6015Trying out the new roller skates right over the roadblocks created by new toys.img_6016Walt got a camera so he was busy taking pictures while rollerskating.  In fact, he took 389 pictures on Christmas day.  I may have competition!img_6017This picture makes me laugh!img_6020img_6054

Well, Walt and Rush missed Santa’s arrival, but he did come, leaving lots of presents under the tree. The day was spent in the traditional fashion of kids playing with gifts, Sarah and me cooking, and getting ready for a turkey dinner with the family and Doris, their au pair, and her boyfriend. We were all stuffed and happy at the end of a perfect Christmas day.

Early Monday morning, Jeff drove us to the airport where we rented a car to drive to Jacksonville to see Kelly and family and Jason, Lisa, and Lisa’s daughter, Ashley, who we had not met before. The drive was a long one with countless delays, but we finally got there around 11:30 PM, so other than getting to see Kelly and Craig and a quick sleepy trip down the stairs by Michaela, we had to wait till morning for the full reunion.

img_6078Left to right, Jason, Lisa, Ashley, Michaela, Madison (in front), Kelly, Carter (also in front.img_6081img_6092img_6103Of course, Jason had to go fishing with the kids in the back yard.

img_3305Jennifer with Madisonimg_3307We loved seeing Rich and Kathy

Tuesday was full of fun when everyone got together again. The first activity of the visit was a traditional trip to the Jacksonville Zoo. Kelly had invited John’s brother, Rich, and his girlfriend, Kathy, along with our niece, Jennifer, for dinner. Rich and Kathy have a home on Amelia Island, which is near to Kelly and Craig’s house, and Jennifer was there for Christmas, visiting from Colorado. We hadn’t seen Jennifer for a few years so it was a real joy to see her again. Because Jennifer, Jason, and I all have birthdays within six days of each other, Jennifer’s being on Christmas and Jason’s being the 26th, Kelly had a cake for the three of us and we all got to celebrate together.

img_3354The glass at the rink is very scratched, but I couldn’t not document this day.  This was Lisa’s first time on skates.  And, as you can see, Jason has turned all Florida and wears only shorts.fullsizerender-26Madison enjoying the ride with Bop.fullsizerender-27Kelly, Carter and Craig.  Before we left, Carter was skating without the walker.fullsizerender-29Ashley was a confident skater – but she sure didn’t feel good.img_6145Michaela does great on skates!

The next day, Wednesday, found everyone bundling up for a day of ice-skating at the rink in Jacksonville. I chose to be the official photographer and babysitter for any child who wanted off the ice (translation, I didn’t want to skate) but everyone else donned rented skates and started off. Unfortunately, Ashley, who is pregnant, didn’t feel well and ended up having to go to the hospital. She was fine after some fluids, but we were all sorry she felt so ill and we are happy all is well now. Jason, Lisa, and Ashley left to go back to New Port Richey, where they live, and the rest of us all just relaxed after a good day together.

img_6162Madison looks so little by the horses, but she has no fear of them at all.img_6179Some of the pre-ride shenanigans!img_6169Michaela is so poised on a horse.img_6183Carter checking out this horse.img_6186These are some friendly horses!  Unfortunately, John did get stepped on by one of them!img_6191This guy just kept on resting his head on my shoulder.img_6197Maddie always manages to get a little ride in.img_6201img_6205Jazz seemed to really try to apologize to Michaela after he threw her.  No hard feelings were kept.

Thursday turned out to be a very busy day! Kelly had arranged Michaela’s riding lesson for 10 AM so John and I could go watch. We drove to the stable where she rides and John and I were surprised to see all the horses just loose around us. What fun it was to have those beautiful animals come up to us to be pet and to follow us around as if they were puppies. They were feeling pretty spunky that day and there was a lot of galloping around going on. However, soon Jazz, the horse Michaela was to ride for the day, was saddled up and she was on him, looking so grown up and accomplished. Jazz, however, was feeling a little feisty from all the running around and when Michaela turned him around and started to make him trot, he took off, throwing poor Michaela right off his back. It was her first fall from a horse, and she took it amazingly well. With only a couple of blisters on her hands from the reigns, she decided to stop for the day, but only a few days later she was right back in the saddle.

img_3394A good dad.

Driving home from her lesson, after making a stop at our mail forwarding service in Green Cove Springs, the next mishap of the day occurred. On the highway, a car ahead of us hit a metal box, sending it flying into one of Kelly’s tires and making a four-inch slash in the side. Kelly handled it beautifully, carefully getting off the road and into a side street where John got to change the tire for his daughter while Kelly arranged an appointment to get a new tire and the kids and I played happily. The day ended well with the new tire installed and everyone enjoying being together for the last night before we left again for Antigua.

img_6210John and Kirby relaxing after our wonderful trip.

Our trip home was easy. We picked up Kirby, got back to the boat, and relaxed with our friends over pizza and drinks. We did both come back with bad colds that we are still trying to shake, but all is well and it was the most wonderful way to spend our Christmas time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABack in Antigua, it was a ladies’ beach day.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Debbie and Noi on the beach.

Now we wish all of you good health, peaceful days, and time with friends and family. Live every day to its fullest and treasure those you love. Happy New Year!